Guest blogger Michael Noble returns with a memory of The Smithereens and patient persistence as a tribute to lead singer Pat DiNizio, who the world lost to cancer earlier this week.
It was naturally sad to hear of the passing Pat Dinizio this week, lead singer for the moderately successful power pop band The Smithereens. I was a fan of their brand of music: Crunching, driving guitars, catchy, hook-laden singles with the occasional melancholy tear-jerker thrown in for good measure. And, oh…what a voice DiNizio possessed. Instantly identifiable every time…at least to my ears.
He will be missed.
Shortly after hearing the news, my mind went a couple places. First, I knew what my work night music menu consisted of – a healthy helping of The Smithereens’ catalog. And then my nostalgia kicked in and I remembered one of the times I went to see them live.
It was 30-some odd years ago. It was a friend’s birthday and it was just the two of us for a night on the town. I knew The Smithereens were playing the world famous Roxy in Hollywood and that, I’d decided, was our destination. I heard the show was sold out, but that never stopped me for going anywhere. Somehow, I would get us into the show.
We arrived and were promptly told by the box office the place was filled to capacity with no tickets left. We hung out anyway, my friend firing questions at me. Yes, we were going to wait it out; someone was bound to come by with extra tickets or some such so we could go inside. He was doubtful, commenting it was not the manner in which he thought his birthday evening would go. Me? I was my usual cheery happy-go-lucky and confident self.
20 minutes into the opening act, a staffer came out for a smoke. He saw us saunter our way over. “Waiting for someone he asked?” he asked. I told him yes, someone with a couple tickets to spare. He chuckled and walked off, puffing away.
Half an hour more passed. I could hear the opening act firing up their final tune of the night and, afterward, out came that same staffer for another smoke. “Still no one with tickets, huh?”
“The place is packed. Matter of fact, the fire marshal came by earlier to check us out, make sure we weren’t violating any fire codes by having too many people in the place. And we were right on cue, not a person more in the joint than we’re allowed. I hate that damned fire marshal, always coming around and checking on us…”
He took a drag of his cigarette.
“You know what? Screw him and his fire codes. You want in? Follow me…”
And that is how we got into the show, on a lark.
At some point into The Smithereens’ set, I turned and noted to my friend, “Not a bad birthday after all, huh?”
Thanks for the memory, Pat and comrades. Rest in peace.
Thank you, Michael. You can read more of his writing at hotchka.com.
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